New Social Media Campaign on the Local Food Act

Tell Your MPPFor the last few months, we’ve been asking Ontarians to email their MPPs, to ask them to take action and support the Local Food Act. Before the Ontario Legislative Assembly resumes on September 10, we are pushing to have emails sent to every MPP in the province.

Over the coming weeks, we will be ramping up our social media campaigning to include easily-shareable educational material such as infographics to talk about the complexities of the Ontario food system, paying particular attention to the real effects that a local food act could have around health, the economy and environmental sustainability in the province.

For many, the phrase “local food” makes them think of a 100 km diet, something of a fad or a trend. However, there are many reasons that local food and local food systems have become a rising topic of conversation. It’s not only about supporting local farmers: it’s about supporting and building a greener, healthier, and more prosperous Ontario.  With increased global trade, food is has been commodified and disassociated from the ways it is produced and the effects that this dynamic has on environments, politics, health and communities. Localizing food production and processing, and making that food accessible to the local community, creates a tighter feedback loop for guiding sustainable growth across many related sectors. In this way, making local food financially and physically accessible lets local customers big and small have a greater impact on how they use their food system to support healthier populations, ecosystems, and business communities.

Supporting our local food systems – such as by creating new markets for local food, increasing food literacy, and supporting environmental initiatives in the good food sector – not only has positive effects like job creation, but also increases food security.

It’s these interconnections between the economy, health, environment and the local food system that we want to highlight over the coming weeks. We’ll be working to bust the misconceptions about local food and show just how important strengthening the local food system is. We believe the Local Food Act is a big part of that.

If you haven’t already emailed your MPP, we encourage you to use the sidebar at the right side of this page. Emailing your MPP is quick and easy, with a pre-written email you can customize and send to your MPP directly from the website. Follow our Facebook and Twitter to see and share our campaign, and to bring your voice to the conversation we hope to build.

Local Food Act Reaches Second Reading in Ontario Legislative Assembly

The proposed Local Food Act was recently re-introduced by the Government and is currently in second reading debate, occupying eighteen hours of House time so far. Sustain Ontario and the ideas put forth by its members have been mentioned numerous times – these mentions, coming from both the Government and the Opposition, have employed Sustain as a resource for balanced and informed representation of healthy food and local, sustainable farming issues.

Sustain Ontario is especially pleased to see emphasis on key issues such as local procurement, food literacy and education, and food hubs.

Below is a selection of highlights from the House debates concerning the Local Food Act. All information was pulled from Hansard, covering the period between April 9th and April 25th.

  • Mr. Grant Crack (Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, @grantcrack), Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Agriculture and Food, made mention of his attendance at the Growing Good Food Ideas launch.
  • Mr. Jonah Schein (Davenport, @jonahschein) cited the need to support local procurement policies for schools, hospitals, colleges, universities and hospitals as well the importance of food literacy and education.
  • Mr. Ernie Hardeman (Oxford) stated in the House, “I want to commend Sustain Ontario for looking at the food system as a whole and for putting forward a proposal to strengthen the system, starting on our farms.” Hardeman also cited the Letter to the Premier concerning the Local Food Act to which Sustain was a signatory and voiced support for its call to increase food literacy in Ontario. Continue reading

Local Food a Focus in the Ontario Federation of Labour’s People’s Budget

A People's Budget - click image for full PDF of report

Click image for full PDF of report.

Earlier this month, the Ontario Federation of Labour released A People’s Budget: Towards a Fair Ontario. The People’s Budget was initiated as a campaign against the austerity agenda, which has resulted in severe cuts to vital services, and issued policy recommendations based on five priorities: creating good jobs; alleviating poverty; supporting families and workers; tax fairness and revenue generation; and giving young people a fair chance.

According to the official OFL report, the purpose of the exercise was, “[t]o change the conversation on austerity, and prepare for a more inclusive, more just 2013 Ontario Budget…” Consultations were held in nine communities throughout Ontario where presentations were given by 83 individuals and groups. 55 submissions were also made through online channels.

Local Food was a major focus of the People’s Budget and was specifically cited among the policy recommendations included in the report. Specifically, the report urged Ontario’s government to “[s]upport our farmers in accessing local markets by developing a broad local food procurement policy for Ontario schools, hospitals, and other public institutions (p. 11).”

Consultations also revealed that more than 16,000 youth in the Windsor-Essex area are living in poverty and that 14,000 food bank users in Sudbury are currently working, highlighting the urgent need to address food insecurity. Continue reading

Local Food Act Coverage

By: Ravi Singh

Last Monday, the Government of Ontario reintroduced the Local Food Act, which had previously died when parliament was prorogued in late 2012.

The preamble of the Act, which builds upon the principle that “Strong local and regional food systems deliver economic benefits and build strong communities”, puts forth the following objectives:

  •  To foster successful and resilient local food economies and systems throughout Ontario
  • To increase awareness of local food in Ontario, including the diversity of local food
  • To encourage the development of new markets for local food.

Continue reading